powertechexposed.com home


Panel rules on uranium mining petitioner claims


Hot Springs Star

By Brett Nachtigall

August 10, 2010


CUSTER – Petitioners opposing uranium mining in the area will be given an opportunity to further develop and present their arguments against the application submitted by Powertech, according to a ruling by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB).


Following oral arguments presented to the ASLB in Custer on June 8 and 9, the three-judge panel has determined that those seeking a hearing had “standing,” meaning there was “a demonstrable reason why the proposed facility could impact them,” said Neil Sheehan, a Public Affairs Officer with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The panel, which consists of a lawyer and two nuclear engineering experts, has granted a hearing to two different groups. The first group, which has three contentions that will be further examined, is Consolidated Petitioners Susan Henderson, Dayton Hyde, David Frankel, CWA and ARM. The second group is the Oglala Sioux Tribe, which has four contentions the panel will examine further.

Included in the contentions that the ASLB will consider are Powertech’s presentation and analysis of baseline ground water quality data, the impact to surrounding aquifers and surface waters, as well as their ability to contain fluid migration. Another contention being examined further on the application is Powertech’s demonstration that cultural and historic resources are identified and protected, pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act.

The ASLB panel also ruled that Consolidated Petitioners Gary Heckenlaible, Lilias Jones Jarding and Theodore Ebert are denied party status in the proceeding. Additionally, seven other contentions presented by the petitioners were also denied further hearings.

Sheehan said the upcoming hearing will be conducted as a “Subpart L” proceeding, which means a great deal of it will be carried out in written filings and rulings.


“However, if the contentions are not dismissed along the way, an actual hearing in which the expert witnesses will testify will take place in the vicinity of the facility, perhaps in Custer once again,” Sheehan said.

In an emailed statement from Sheehan, he added, “There is no firm timeline yet on when the actual evidentiary hearing would take place. Again, that would depend on whether the contentions survive until that point, since there will be an opportunity at one point for the company to file a dismissal motion(s) regarding the contentions.

“The judges would have to rule on such a motion(s) before an actual hearing could occur. If an actual hearing was conducted, the panel would rule within several months of that session. The parties would then have an opportunity to appeal the ruling, with the presidentially appointed Commission that oversees the NRC functioning as the appeals
panel. The Commission has five members. After that step, the parties could still challenge the outcome in federal court.”